MFL MarMac boys UIC track and field champs for first time in school history

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Wyatt Powell was part of three of MFL MarMac’s four winning relays at the Upper Iowa Conference meet. The senior was the opening leg in the 4x100, 4x200 and sprint medley. (Photos by Grant Langhus)

Parker Kuehl won the long jump and placed second in the high jump at the Upper Iowa Conference meet.

Brandon Christofferson hands the baton off to teammate Tucker Ruff.

Aiden Schoulte launched a fourth-place throw in the shot put.

Rylee Kugel made up one leg of the shuttle hurdle relay, which soared to third place.

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


The MFL MarMac boys are Upper Iowa Conference track and field champions for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs racked up 171 points in the UIC meet at South Winneshiek on May 2, far outpacing the 145 by North Fayette Valley and 144 from South Winn.


Head coach Tracy Decker said winning the conference meet has been the goal since MFL MarMac claimed the UIC indoor title in March.


“We looked back, and in the past 70 years, winning the UIC track meet has not been done here,” he said. “It feels good and the kids definitely put the time in to do this. I told them in March, ‘If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.’ I heard that somewhere once and it stuck with me because it is true.”


The athletes were willing to put in hard work on days when it needed to be done—even on unusually nice weather days in February, according to Decker. This built a base to help them succeed in May.


“Not only that, but many have been lifting weights in the morning and this helped also. The right amount of work and rest was tough to balance, because in April the weather didn’t cooperate very often with what we were trying to accomplish, and many plan B’s or C’s went into effect,” Decker said. “All the guys will be able to say they helped the team win, which was truly the case. Everyone that was available to participate did and scored.”


The Bulldogs earned 17 placements of third or better across 19 events, including six individual championships.


Four were in the relays, where Wyatt Powell, Carver Blietz-Bentien, Kashton Decker and Parker Kuehl combined for first in both the 4x100  and 4x200. Powell, Blietz-Bentien, Anthony Bunting and Brandon Christofferson made up the winning sprint medley team, while Kade McElwaine, Bunting, Jaxon Millage and Jacob Schellhorn were tops in the distance med.


The Bulldogs were runners-up in the 4x400 thanks to Christofferson, Tucker Ruff, Millage and Eli Hanson, and soared to third in the shuttle hurdle relay behind Izayah Streicher, Carter Stoddard, Rylee Kugel and Ruff.


MFL MarMac also competed in the 4x800 for the first time this season, with Streicher, Abe Hanson, Millage and McElwaine earning sixth.


“Assistant coach Bret Corlett and I spent a lot of time going through our changes and adding and subtracting time to relays, figuring out if we could give up a little time here and there and still win while making another relay better, and all of them paid off in the end,” Decker said.


Nowhere was there a better example than the 4x800, which included a sprinter and regular 400 runner, as well as a shot putter and manager/discus thrower, neither of whom had run an event this year.


“We told them we need points. Try to hang in there and get us a couple points, and they did,” Decker said. “The guys wanted to win the conference title no matter what. It didn’t matter if they were missing out on a first-place finish or not. This was bigger than themselves and they knew it. Some got moved out of a winning relay to a different relay that won. In the end, I have never seen them happier with an outcome.”


More top finishes piled up in the individual running events, where Schellhorn turned in a personal record time to win the 1600 and crossed second in the 800 and third in the 3200. 


Ruff continued to excel in the hurdles, leaping to second in the 400-meter race and third in the 110. Teammate Kugel was fifth in the shorter race and ninth in the 400.


Christofferson and Eli Hanson cruised to a respective second and third in the 400-meter dash, and Powell notched third in the 100. Kashton Decker was fourth in that race and runner-up in the 200.


The field events were equally successful. Kuehl was second in the high jump and won the long jump, finishing ahead of teammate Eli Hanson in fourth place. Blietz-Bentien and Hunter Christofferson launched fourth- and fifth-place throws in the discus, and Aiden Schoulte and Bryce Diehl landed a respective fourth and seventh in the shot put.


Decker acknowledged winning the UIC meet wasn’t completely unexpected, but the margin of victory was.


“We had many personal bests in individual running events and relays that made the difference in breathing room. Toward the end of the night, we were just trying to get the baton around and weren’t concerned about times. We just were concerned about scoring,” he said. “It sure will always be a fond memory of how the kids came together to get this done. The neatest thing to see were all the guys running to the home stretch and encouraging each other to finish as strong as possible. I was worried at times that they wouldn’t have anything left for the next race. Some told me they didn’t know if they could come up with that kind of run again, but they kept doing it. I don’t know if it was adrenaline or simply just the desire to do this for the first time. I know, as a coach, these opportunities do not happen all the time and they were all in on seizing the day.”


Decker said the conference meet was a good opportunity to experiment with relays to try to get faster times, and thus better lanes or heats, for the district/state qualifying meet at Denver on May 9. 


“We will have to step it up another notch, find another gear and, in some cases, clean some things up by then to compete at a higher level,” he said. “Some of the best teams in the state are in this district, specifically number four ranked Grundy Center.” 


“Anything can happen at districts,” he added. “All the highs and lows come to the forefront in a big way. We have our work cut out for us.”

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